Saturday, April 15, 2006

Musings on technology, torture, et cetera

So I was reading some things in Adbusters yesterday (hard to really define it as articles; if you've ever checked out the magazine you'll know what I mean...
Anyway, unlees you have a strong stomach, don't check out their intro pages about current policy on what is and isn't considered torture by the good old U.S. govt.
Also in the issue was a piece on how cell phones are going to be the advertising medium of the future. A bit of targeted GPS analysis and you'll get an phone call for a discount on a coffee right as you go past a ubiquitous vendor of said product (as long as you watch their ad, that is...) Call me a Luddite, but I always knew cell phone were evil. The demon Crowley would love that one and take credit for it, but it was doubless invented by humans. If you haven't read Good Omens, you seriously owe it to yourself. If it's not your cup of tea, then you won't get into it, but I'm not alone in considering it the funniest book I've ever read (or reread multiple times, as the case may be). It has recently been rereleased, so I'm going to check it out for any new stuff (introductory, I think) contained therein, but I'm proud to say I own two copies- a loaner and a bound (American) proof edition.
So anyway...
Back to some of my recent reading and thoughts. I finished Dan Brown's novel Digital Fortress a few weeks back (about the NSA, cryptography and an unbreakable code) and that along with some plotlines in a couple of Robert J. Sawyer's novels (Factoring Humanity and parts of the Neanderthal Parallax series among others) got me thinking about cryptography. What if there were an unbreakable code? Given the privacy abuses of the current government in the U.S., I'm not convinced that would be an entirely bad thing to have, despite the potential for "terrorists" (aside from the government issue kind, that is). Anyway, I wonder if Dan Brown's novel might have been a bit different had he written it recently instead of several years back. It would be interesting, I think to see what Robert J. Sawyer might do with a story idea like this- an unbreakable code is developed, envision a positive effect for humanity as a whole which that might have. Rob, (or other authors) if you read this, feel free to take it on if it interests you, I freely relinquish any rights I might have to the idea for such a story.

And on a more positive technology note, the April issue of Discover magazine reports that the first industrial sized plant to convert anything (mostly turkey guts, it looks like) into oil is now up and running. Cool!


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